One book that improves self-esteem, increases productivity, betters relationships, and brings you peace? Are you kidding?
Nope. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz can do all the above and more. How? Ruiz outlines four simple agreements to live by. 1) Be impeccable with your word. 2) Don’t take anything personally. 3) Don’t make assumptions. 4) Always do your best.
The first agreement has helped to keep my writing on track. To be impeccable with one’s word is to follow through with whatever we say. For example, years ago I told myself I would write seven Artania novels and I’ve kept that promise to myself and thus far have finished five. The same goes for any other project. If I tell a friend I’m going to complete a screenplay, I do it.
The second agreement helps my relationships. When I realize that most actions by others have absolutely nothing to do with me, it doesn’t matter if someone calls or not. I accept that they live are just living heir lives. Even if someone gets angry, it often is because of past pain, current stress, or physical ailments. And I remember this agreement so I don’t take it personally. Anyhow, I am busy living my own life and don’t have time to focus on theirs.
The book also taught me that many misunderstandings stem from assumptions. And this is an area I still need to work on. I’ll admit that I still assume that people in certain roles “should act” certain ways. Many of these assumptions come from cultural indoctrination of gender roles. For instance, I expected my ex-husband to mow the lawn because that’s “what husbands do.” These assumptions have only hurt my relationships. I am continuing to try and accept people for who they are.
Number four isn’t always easy. Especially lately since I’ve become my mother’s caretaker. I want to do my best as a mom, teacher, writer, gym rat, and friend. However the days have been wearing me out. Dementia takes constant vigilance and I’m often tired, stressed, and burned out. Then I look at pictures of my children or my students’ faces and know they deserve my best. I see Mom’s confusion as she wanders back and forth lost in the house and dig deeper for strength. If I read over a page I’ve written and it isn’t right, I revise it.
At the end of the I want to respect myself. So I try my best.
The Four Agreements. Making life better.
About Laurie: The author of Forests Secrets and Finding Joy as well as The Pharaoh’s Cry, Portal Rift, Persistence of Memory, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky of the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles, Laurie Woodward is also a screenwriter who co-authored Dean and JoJo: The Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet, and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at Author Laurie Woodward — Next Chapteria.net